What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the practice of using black hat and unethical SEO techniques to sabotage a competitor’s rankings in the search engines. Negative SEO aims to get Google to penalize a competitors’ website. (Remember the 9th SEO commandment? Thou shalt not bear negative SEO against thy neighbour!)

Usually (with the exception of hacking) negative seo happens away from your website. 

It includes:

  • Building hundreds or thousands of spammy (low quality)  links to your website using negative/bad anchor text
  • Copying (scraping) your content and distributing it all over the internet, including websites with a higher domain authority than yours.
  • Creating fake social media profiles and using them to ruin your reputation online
  • Hacking your website

Link Spam

This negative SEO technique includes using a link farm (websites that are closely connected or related) to point their low-quality (spammy) links to your website using negative/bad anchor text.

An example is when a website received thousands of Backlinks overnights. The anchor text used on those backlinks was “Porn Movie”. Within days and weeks the website lost its rankings in the search results.

What should you do?

Monitor your backlink profile on a regular basis to spot any spammy Backlinks. Use the Disavow tool, found in the Google Search Console, to remove bad or spammy backlinks.

Scraped Content

This technique involves scraping (stealing, pirating) your content and publishing it on other websites with high domain authority than your website. If Google finds the stolen content first on another website, it will credit that website as being the original and not rank your content since its a duplicate.

What should you do? 

Regularly use a plagiarism checker to check if other websites are stealing your content and use it as their own. If you find other website owners stealing your content first contact them and ask them to either credit you as the original author or else you will report them to Google for copyright infringement

Website Hacking

This negative SEO technique includes hackers gaining unauthorised access to your website and making unauthorised changes to your website. 

What should you do?

  • Set strong passwords
  • Limit login attempts
  • Use 2-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication (2FA), sometimes referred to as two-step verification or dual factor authentication, is a security process in which the user provides two different authentication factors to verify themselves to better protect both the user’s credentials and the resources the user can access
  • Regularly scan your website for malware.
  • Backup your website regularly
  • Use a CDN (content distribution network) to avoid DDOS attacks

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